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Mom sues after failed drug test over poppy seeds

  1. Basoodler
    PITTSBURGH (AP) — A first-time mother who says she failed a drug test while in labor because she ate poppy seeds has sued a Pittsburgh hospital, saying officials defamed her and violated her doctor-patient confidentiality by sharing the results with a child welfare agency.

    Rachael Devore, 31, who gave birth at Magee-Women's Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center on June 24, contends in her lawsuit that the hospital staff tested her urine while she was in labor and then turned over the "positive" drug test to county caseworkers.

    "I just delivered and it's supposed to be this beautiful, wonderful, happy time and I'm being accused of something that's completely ridiculous," Devore told The Associated Press. "To be accused of physically and purposely harming your child is a very tough accusation to swallow."

    A UPMC spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuit filed Tuesday.

    Opiates like heroin are made from poppies, which is why the seeds can result in false positives on drug tests. But Devore said she didn't realize what prompted the failed drug test until weeks later — when she bought the same kind of bread she had eaten ate the day before she went into labor and saw poppy seeds when she sliced into it.

    Last year, another Pennsylvania woman settled a lawsuit with Jameson Hospital in New Castle for $143,500, after a county child welfare worker seized the woman's newborn in 2010 after that mother also tested positive for drugs after eating a poppy seed bagel.

    Devore's attorney, Margaret Coleman, said there were no medical reasons to test Devore for drugs, saying she was a "model" patient. And when the urine sample came back as an "unconfirmed positive" the results even included the disclaimer "These results are to be used only for medical purposes. Unconfirmed screening results must not be used for non-medical purposes (e.g. employment testing, legal testing)," the lawsuit stated.

    Except that's exactly what UPMC did, Devore claims, when they referred her case to Allegheny County's Office of Children, Youth and Families.

    Within hours of her daughter's birth, a nurse took a urine sample from the child who was monitored for withdrawal symptoms. The next day, a hospital social worker interrupted Devore while breastfeeding "and demanded information about her alleged drug use."

    Devore told the social worker she didn't use drugs and, although their daughter's tests were also negative, the hospital social worker still referred the case to CYF as Devore and the baby were being discharged June 26.

    A CYF caseworker visited the Devores later that day, and scheduled a July 5 inspection of their home. A CYF investigator referred the case to a drug addiction counselor and required Devore to sign a "safety plan" acknowledging she'd surrender her parental rights to her husband if she did drugs again.

    CYF workers inspected the home repeatedly in the coming weeks, and the drug counselor told Devore she planned to recommend future random drug tests, even after Devore passed another urine test. Eventually, the CYF investigator opted not to require the drug tests, though the agency has yet to send Devore a letter confirming her case has been closed. The agency doesn't comment publicly on child welfare cases.

    "The Devores are very, very fortunate that CYF didn't take their baby away and UPMC knows that risk exists whenever they make one of these reports," Coleman said.

    By JOE MANDAK, Associated Press | March 11, 2014



  1. MyLittleBronie
    I failed an ETG test for probation after using breath strips containing peppermint extract.

    I should sue the shit out of them if they put me in jail. :/
  2. nitewalker
    It just goes to show what this poor woman, myself, and probably many of you out there, have had to deal with in this age of "anything worth doing, is worth overdoing" society we all have to navigate nowadays.

    I have been working as a truck driver now for many years, and during a routine Department of Transportation inspection, the officer asked what was in the box on my passenger seat. I informed him that it was gifts for my family back home. He wanted to see for himself, so I opened it up and showed him (as a commercial driver, the DOT does not need permission or a warrant to search a commercial vehicle, they can do pretty much whatever they want). While riffling through my belongings, he came across a bottle of BBQ sauce marked with the label of a well known whiskey manufacturer. He asked what it was and I told him.

    Well, to make a long story short, because of the "zero tolerance" policy, I was promptly ticketed & my company was informed, who just as promptly fired me. I wasn't even given the opportunity to appeal either the DOT or my company. And to top it all off, it went on my DAC (permanent record for commercial drivers) as "possession of an intoxicating substance in a commercial vehicle". All over a bottle of BBQ sauce that contained less than 1% alc by vol.

    My job and subsequent career. Her family life and reputation. What's next? Are they just going to grab a hammer & nails and crucify the next poor son of a bitch that even looks like he might be thinking of having a good time?
  3. ianzombie
    Thats a shitty story, nitewalker.
    I can hardly believe that people would be so fucking petty.

    While it is very possible that this news story is true, that the woman did show up a false positive for taking poppy seeds it is also possible that she, like many others, are using poppy seeds as an excuse to cover up opiate use.

    There seems to be a lot more people using this excuse after 'myth-busters' showed how this can happen.
    There was another article recently where someone used the 'poppy seed bread' excuse, however the level of Morphine found in their body would have needed them to eat a thousand loafs of poppy seed bread.
  4. stryder09
    One poppy seed bagel can/may lead to urine morphine concentrations of greater than 1,000 ng/mL (depending on time of collection vs. time of consumption). Normal dietary consumption of poppy seed foodstuffs will not lead to any significant blood concentrations of morphine.
  5. Basoodler
    I don't recall poppy seeds having any recognizable flavor. Hell sesame seeds have a fairly strong flavor as far as pointless seeds on baked goods go, but I don't think that it would lead me to think

    " you know what this bagel needs?.... Some God damn seeds.. That would push it over the top"

    Even in the case that I have vastly underestimated the value of the additional flavor goodness added by a sprinkle of poppyseeds on foodstuffs, I still have to wonder why we even fuck with them.

    I get having bulk seeds available for tea. That isn't what I'm talking about.

    Ever since the advent of the modern drug test people have either failed drug tests because of them or used them as an excuse for failing one. Then every few years some news agency will do an expose on how they can cause a false positive only to do another expose claiming it is bullshit. We have been hymn hawing around with that story for the last 30 years..

    I also wonder why a person who has knowledge ahead of time that they are going to be drug tested deciding to eat a poppy seed muffin.. Being the only baked good additive that could lead to bullshit (such as cps taking your newborn), common sense would dictate that a blueberry or chocolate chip muffin would be a much better (future oriented) choice.

    I justify these questions with the following (quoted from snopes)

    This worries me that after marijuana is legalized and people start failing employment related drug tests that I will spend another 30 years of " I didn't know that those brownies would cause me to fail a drug test"

    Because of the previous cash award from a case exactly like the one that the OP is about (from the same state no less) I could see a bit of deciet and greed at play
  6. stryder09
    Positive test for morphine through consumption of poppy seeds shouldn't even be considered a false positive result. It is a true positive as morphine is confirmed via a mass spectrometry based method.
  7. Ghetto_Chem
    ^^True but at the levels usually found in baked goods its a "false positive for drug use" as the person eating the food has absolutely no intention of getting high, and they don't.

    I like the taste of poppy seeds. Sesame bagels are good and all, and onion are great, but nothing like an everything bagel that has the poppy seeds on there too, just brings it together.

    My ex's mother used to bake an amazing poppy seed cake that was just loaded with em, every bite was full of the crunchy little seeds. And when you got that many you taste em. Although its still milder than a sesame seed.

    Since people have been using them for so long in baked goods I think its only fair that they raise the limit for morphine detection to a higher level, even if it means less of a chance to detect actual users. The consequences involved are just too great.

  8. stryder09
    This was the main reason they raised the workplace drug testing screening cutoff for opiates (codeine/morphine) to 2,000 ng/mL in 1998.
  9. Ghetto_Chem
    I'm not familiar with what that would be in terms of how much poppy seed baked goods (on average) someone would have to eat. If you could enlighten me I would be grateful :) I know they raised it but it still sounds like people are getting fucked over for this. Its really sad to read a story about someone who lost everything over a muffin.

    Its gotta be really hard to find a good cutoff point because some baked goods are so packed with em, or have seeds that might be especially potent. Morphine is the type of feel too where at low doses it would be hard for the average person to pick up on what they are feeling especially if they don't even know they ingested a drug. I remember as a kid eating 50mg of morphine sulfate a few times and not really feeling it all that much. Morphine never did much for me orally unless it was in high doses.

  10. TheBigBadWolf
    I myself have made the test with m doctor three years ago after I came up morphine positive in a pee-test from my MMT.

    I told him to either send it to a lab for confirmation or let me do the proof.

    which I did three days later. going to the office where I pee-tested negative for opiates, then went over the street and bought two pieces of poppy cake , about 80 to hundred grams of baken poppy seeds in each, and ate them, together with a cup of coffee, afterwards dramk alf a liter of water. all this time I was under observation of office staff and I give my word I did not take any other opies.
    three hours after consumption I was tested again - on three different brands of test stripes which all came out positive.

    nonetheless I must say that it is used as an excuse more often than not, at least from peope involved in drug taking where I live.
    To suspect anyone eatng poppy-containing food to be a drug offender is ridiculous nonetheless, the same is drugtesting a new mother for no reason. It would have been early enough to test her - with telling her before, of course - if the child had showed with any symptoms of withdrawal. Doing so without reason or permission is not only ridiculous but should get the people ordering this behaviour fired from health care work.

  11. occilator
    Drug testing is useless. The reason for doing it is misguided. And it invades my private life. As in I now have to waste effort cheating the system .
    It does very little to minimise accidents in the workplace. As accidents are caused by stupid people, and well.... Accidents.here in Australia the mining industry pushed the testing ball. Now we have all kinds of jobs/rolls being tested. It is out of hand. I can tell you now. There is just as many people using recreational drugs and cheating the testing, as there ever was. Personally, I did stop smoking weed regularly. Which was a snap, even After 20+ years of daily use. I still use all kinds of chems tho. Stopping weed has done nothing but make me angry.
    Sigh. I'm a junkie . But I'm a top quality worker, and my skills and product are second to none. How is it that what I do outside of working hours is anyone's business. ?
    Sucks balls
  12. Basoodler
    Drug testing by an employer can reduce insurance premiums for the overall business, it also provides a potential out for various employee related claims. Workers comp, disability, unemployment etc.

    A workers comp claim can run up in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and go on for years.. A hot piss test can erase that expense in a heart beat.

    Trust me, its not about the employer giving a shit about what you do at home
  13. (NS)-M-Lo-Reason
    A lot of labs now have raised the cutoff levels considered positive for morphine and its gluconurides (sp?) to try and avoid this issue, although it still comes up. At least that is often what they will say when you try to argue the issue. If you're being tested it's often wise to just not eat poppy seeds at all. But since this woman was tested without consent, she can and should sue sue sue. I hope her lawyer checks this forum. What a crock of awful bullshit.
  14. 3TH30G3N
    I totally agree with you, man. This is complete ignorance and shows how messed up the system is. And you're right about them raising the cut-off level from 300ng/mL to 2000ng/mL, I believe. But, still these things happen depending on the quality of the seed (maybe she got "organic" poppy seeds which hadn't been baked leaving more morphine alkaloids).

    I, however, failed my 8-Panel + EtG test, for alcohol, at a level of 750, which I believe is extremely low, but if anyone else could clarify that would be great. I do not drink. EVER. The reason I failed is because that day at work was extremely busy (I work in a juice franchise place) and I didn't have enough time to wash my hands every 30 mins. I ended up using loads of hand-sanitizer that day (70% ethyl alcohol), probably around 10-20 pumps. I then went and took a UA on my lunch break, and had used the sanitizer just minutes before.

    Now I might not get off probation when I'm scheduled to (9 days), and I'm gonna be furious. I hate the system. Any advice on what I should do? Thanks.
  15. nitewalker
    I remember many years ago when I was living in Germany, there was a TV show on German TV called Kaum Zum Glauben (which means hard to believe), that was similar to Myth Busters here in the states. On one episode a man was found to have alcohol in his system, at a roadside checkpoint, even though he did not drink.

    It turned out that what he had eaten an hour or so before had caused the breathalyzer to give a positive reading.

    They had a man on the show eat the same things as the driver did that night, waited a while ( I forget exactly how long ), and low & behold when he blew into a breathalyzer he came up positive!

    The man had consumed approximately 500 grams of red grapes, half a loaf of french bread, 200 grams of cheese and three quarters of a liter orange juice mixed half & half with sparkling mineral water. The grapes & oj combined with the bread, that contained yeast, and combined with his body heat, caused the mixture to ferment enough alcohol to give a positive reading on the breathalyzer.

    All though the man was well below the legal limit in Germany, if he were to have been involved in an automobile accident, under German law he would have been automatically at fault, and would not have been covered by his insurance. If another person had been killed, he likely would have been charged with manslaughter.

    To tryptanethylamine: The hand sanitizer may not necessarily be the cause.

  16. Diverboone
    The post that have been made on this thread all take issue with the actual test. As of yet no one has taken an issue with why the test was given. It causes me to think that the testing of the mother was acceptable.

    I would like to hear how the members feel about the push to test all expecting mothers. Should they be given. If so, in what way would they be beneficial?
  17. 3TH30G3N
    Well if it wasn't the hand sanitizer what could it have been? I read somewhere that half a glass of wine could make you fail an etg test 24 hours after at levels up to 1500. So my levels were threshold
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